Joe Christensen covered Major League Baseball for 15 years, including three seasons at the Baltimore Sun and eight at the Star Tribune, before switching to the college football beat. He’s a Faribault, Minn., native who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1996. He covered Jim Wacker’s Gophers for the Minnesota Daily and also wrote about USC, UCLA and the Rose Bowl for the Riverside Press-Enterprise before getting this chance to cover football again.
Email Joe to talk about the Gophers.
Normally, the process of requesting credentials to cover a college football game is pretty straightforward and simple: Send us your name, affiliation, maybe whether you need parking, and that's about it.
But when your program is on NCAA probation because boosters, players and recruits had a too-cozy relationship, including on the sidelines and in locker rooms, things get a little more complicated.
That's what I discovered today as I used USC's new credential system, in preparation for the Sept. 3 season opener in the L.A. Coliseum. There are several pages of regulations to read -- sort of like accepting the new iTunes terms every two weeks -- and ends with an affirmation that "the information provided was truthful and complete."
Not sure if I'm under oath.
Among the steps was a six-question pledge, and I had to select Yes or No for each. One was the standard, 'we have the right to revoke' clause, but the next five were, ahem, violation-specific. Sort of like how we all have to take our shoes off at airports because one guy smuggled a bomb in his shoe. A few of the questions:
-- Do you agree not to have any contact with any USC prospective student-athlete (or their relatives or friends) before, during or after the game on the field sidelines? This includes in-person contact and written or electronic communications, either directly or via a third party.
-- Do you agree not to arrange, provide or promise to provide any benefits to any current USC student-athlete (or their relatives or friends) from yourself or on behalf of anyone else?
-- Do you certify that you are not an agent (e.g., sports agent, marketing agent or financial adviser to athletes) or any such agent's employee, representative or affiliate (including "runners")?
-- Do you certify you have not triggered the definition of a representative of USC's athletic interests by 1) making a financial (cash or in-kind) donation to the USC Athletic Department or one of its booster organizations; 2) participating in or becoming a member of an organization promoting USC's athletic programs (e.g., Cardinal & Gold, Trojan Club); 3) assisting the Athletic Department in the recruitment of prospective student-athletes; 4) assisting (or have assisted) in providing benefits to enrolled student-athletes or their families; or 5) being involved in promoting USC's athletics program?
I guess you have to applaud USC's newly discovered insistence on complying with NCAA rules, since lax enforcement was one reason the Trojans were punished so heavily, including a two-year ban on bowl games. Bet they wish they had this system in place five years ago.
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